Kosovo will adopt the euro currency for cash and payment transactions as of Feb. 1, the country’s Central Bank announced in a decree late Wednesday.
The move could attract controversy and even unrest, as up to now, ethnic Serbian communities in Kosovo have used the dinar, the official currency in neighboring Serbia, in both state institutions as well as commercial establishments. Many local Serbs feel an attachment or even allegiance to Serbia.
Salaries, pensions, child allowances, and social assistance have been paid in dinars to employees of Serbian institutions. Stores in northern Kosovo – an area bordering Serbia with a large ethnic Serbian population – display prices in dinars.
Under the Central Bank decree, currencies other than the euro can be used in Kosovo only as safekeeping in physical form or bank accounts.
Dinars arrive in Kosovo from the National Bank of Serbia, which has a vault in the town of Leposavic, also in northern Kosovo near the Serbian border.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic called the announcement sidelining the dinar “worrying,” saying that it “throws into question all processes, both of normalization and dialogue.”
In September 2021, Kosovo’s announcement that Serbian license plates would be banned led to controversy and protests.
Kosovo has a mainly Albanian population, with a small percentage of ethnic Serbs, most of them concentrated along the northern border with Serbia.
Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, with most UN member states including the US, UK, France, Germany, and Türkiye recognizing it as an autonomous country.
Serbia, however, still considers Kosovo its territory.